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The action's (mostly) in the sky as Sunderland Airshow approaches

One of the summer’s many big festivals is mostly up in the air. David Whetstone looks ahead to this weekend’s Sunderland International Airshow

Crowds at the Sunderland Airshow
Crowds at the Sunderland Airshow

In this summer of festivals, one big event ends and immediately the countdown begins to the next... which this week is the Sunderland International Airshow.

Naturally, most of the action at this weekend’s 26th annual free festival will be in the air (best start flexing the neck muscles) but there will be action on the ground along Roker and Seaburn seafront too.

A Friday night launch event is due to begin in Cliffe Park at 6pm and run until 10pm. Beatles tribute band Them Beatles and barbershop-style girl group The Shoeshop Quartet will entertain.

Military exhibitions will be open for viewing from 5pm to 9pm in Cliffe Park and Bede’s Cross and there will be a host of exhibitor stands to see in Recreation Park which will be open from 4pm to 10pm.

Bars will be open in Cliffe Park and Recreation Park.

Overhead there will be a flying display featuring the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF Tutor Display Team and the Twister Aerobatics Team.

You might also see the RAF Tucano T1 in its new First World War commemoration livery featuring the words ‘Lest We Forget’ and a spray of poppies.

The evening will culminate in a fireworks display at 10pm.

A park and ride service will be available from 4pm on Friday evening from the Stadium of Light to Bunglaow Café (£2 return) because there will be no designated on-site parking.

Chris Alexander, chief operating officer of organising body Sunderland Live, said: “We are looking forward to everyone having a great time at the Sunderland International Airshow.

“This year an earlier start on the Friday evening gives visitors even more time to enjoy the huge choice of hospitality, exhibitions, catering and fairground rides located throughout the event site.”

He added: “Last year we received great feedback regarding the relaying of the live music right along the seafront.

“This year we are planning to do that again so everyone can pick their favourite place to watch the evening display and still hear the great music we have planned on the main stage at Cliffe Park.”

On Saturday and Sunday the airshow will be open from 10am to 6pm. Flying displays will take place between 12.20pm and 5pm on Saturday and 12 noon and 5.15pm on Sunday with timings subject to change.

In the air you will see a variety of military and civilian planes including the RAF Typhoon Display Team, the Sea Kings of 771 Squadron, which specialises in search and rescue, and the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team.

The Breitling Wingwalkers will also put on a show for those who like to feel their heart in their mouth.

This team aims to recreate the early glamour years of flying when First World War aces bought their planes cheap in peacetime to use for pioneering stunt displays.

Sunderland International Airshow is a must for the plane spotter but is also known for family entertainment. This year Sunderland Live have also introduced a special family zone at Cliffe Park.

Local company ARTventurers will be on hand to keep children entertained, as spokeswoman Fiona Simpson explained.

“We’re really excited that ARTventurers is part of the family activities at Sunderland International Airshow this year,” she said.

“It’s always a brilliant weekend for all ages with a great atmosphere. We’ve got lots of exciting activities planned for children in the family zone including making Red Arrows puppets and a big airshow banner.”

Airshow visitors will also get a taste of the forthcoming Disney film, Planes 2: Fire and Rescue, which is due for general release on August 8.

Trailers will be shown on big screens across the site over the weekend along with a fire truck equipped with interactive screens. A fancy dress race and a fire hose coconut shy will also vie for attention with the planes flying overhead.

Disney is among a host of new airshow sponsors of the airshow which also includes DFDS Seaways and Emirates.

Also dropping in on the airshow will be the BBC’s World War One At Home tour with various hands-on activities, performances and interactive sessions.

Actor Larry Lamb and One Show reporter Lucy Siegle will be mixing with the crowds and Kate Adie will give a talk about the role women played in the First World War.

Find full details of the Sunderland International Airshow on www.sunderlandlive.co.uk

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